Saturday, January 30, 2016

Eulogy for a retrochallenge

If you've been following my retrochallenge at all, then you have come to one of two conclusions: Either I'm making progress but not blogging about it, or I'm just no making progress.  Unfortunately it was the latter, not the former.  My last blog earlier this month discussed all the progress I had made: I developed my tool chain and created a Makefile that automated the build process and would be flexible as the project grew.  But this turned out to be pointless since my project never grew.

Why didn't the project go anywhere?  Well, there are a lot of reasons.  I was unexpectedly busy at work, so I didn't have quite as much free time as I normally would.  But more significantly, being so busy at work just left me less motivated to program on my own, since programming is what I do professionally.

Another reason is that, although I had a full LMweek off from work and the family was gone, this turned out to offer me less free time than I had anticipated.  My hobby stuff, including all my retro stuff, was crammed into my "man cave" upstairs in the house, but some rearrangements meant that I could take over the office down below, so I spent part of my free week moving my stuff into my new digs.  This is a big improvement for me, because it allows me to setup two or three retro systems at one time, whereas before I was really limited to only one or maybe two if the second one didn't take up much space.  And I still have my "man cave" which will now become my ham shack (as in ham radio, not pork).

Which leads me into my third reason: Distractions!  Early in the month I purchased a 6502 SBC, so I got distracted by that.  Then @Retrochallenge started tweeting about his ham radio activities, and that inspired me to get back into that hobby.  And even just recently, I purchased a Kaypro 2000.  Although this hasn't arrived yet, I started looking into this system as well.  So basically I lost focus early on and just never really got back to my project.

This is my second retrochallenge, and so far I'm 0 for 2 in terms of completing my project.  But even though I didn't complete last year's either, I felt a lot better about that.  My project involved a lot of reading and learning of the PDP-8 and OS/8, which turned out to take a lot more time than I had expected.  So even though I didn't finish, I learned a lot and felt like I had accomplished a lot.  This time, though, was almost a complete bust.  I did relearn a bit of the xBase platform, and the project skeleton I made for kBase will be usable for future cc65 projects, whether they be for the Apple II or for other 6502 platforms.  I also got a copy of Tom Raidna's TUI library, which I think will be useful for future projects.  So I do feel like I at least gave myself a bit of a step up for future projects, but I definitely didn't really accomplish much.  So I feel pretty unsatisfied with my work this month.

So is this the end for kBase?  Honestly I don't know.  I still like the idea of the project, but I just don't have the motivation to work on it right now.  There are just too many other things I'm playing with at the moment.  And this is a hobby, not work.  But I can't predict what ideas will grab me in the future, and I enjoy working on interpreters, so there's every possibility that I'll come back to this project.  Maybe just in time for Retrochallenge 16/07!

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